All companies (including for this update CICs and LLPs) must send their annual accounts to Companies House every year. The quickest way to file accounts is to submit them online. If a company’s accounts are filed late, the law imposes an automatic penalty. Every company should take appropriate measures to ensure that its accounts are filed on time. Companies whose accounts will be late because the company is effected by Covid-19 can now apply for a 3 month extension to file the accounts.

When to apply for an extension

For many years it have been possible to apply for an extension to file accounts because of an event that’s outside of your control - for example, because of an unexpected illness or if a fire has destroyed company records a few days before your filing deadline.

If your accounts may or will be late because your company is affected by Covid-19, you can apply for an automatic and immediate 3 month extension to file your accounts. The new Companies House guidance does not expressly provide for an automatic extension where your accountants’ business is disrupted due to Covid-19, albeit your accountants may be able to submit such an application.

Companies that have already extended their filing deadline (e.g. under the generally rules relating to an extension), or which have shortened their accounting reference period, are unlikely to be eligible for an extension.

The key thing is to apply for the extension before your accounts filing deadline, otherwise late filing penalties will automatically be imposed (see below).

Late filing penalties

If you do not apply for an extension and your accounts are filed late, an automatic penalty will be imposed.

Length of period (measured from the date the accounts are due)

Private company penalty

Public company penalty

Not more than 1 month



More than 1 month but not more than 3 months



More than 3 months but not more than 6 months



More than 6 months



If your annual accounts for the previous financial period were filed late, the fines will be doubled.

The registrar has very limited discretion not to collect a penalty and has lengthy guidance on late filing penalties and appeals, which includes policies based upon unforeseen poor health. Companies House has confirmed that it will consider appeals against late filing penalties based upon Covid-19 under these existing poor health policies. Each appeal is treated on a case-by-case basis, but it is rare for appeals against late filing penalties to be successful, especially where the company could have applied for an extension ahead of the filing date.

How to apply for an extension

You must apply online to extend your accounts filing deadline before the deadline. The application should take about 15 minutes to complete. You will need: (a) your company number, (b) information about why you need more time and, if applicable, (c) any documents to support your application. Documentary evidence is unlikely to be required for a Covid-19 related request.

Companies House will review your application and make a decision about your extension request. If your application is based on issues around COVID-19, you’ll be automatically and immediately granted a 3 month extension.

It’s important that you file your accounts by the due date if possible. You should not wait for a decision about your extension request, even where this is likely to be automatically issued in Covid-19 related circumstances.

Companies House will contact you by email within 5 working days to tell you if your application has been successful or not. It may also contact you if it needs more information, where the application for an extension is unrelated to Covid-19 reasons.

If Companies House agrees to extend your filing deadline, you must file your accounts before the new due date or the company will get a late filing penalty.

This will not change the deadlines for your future accounts which will remain as 9 months after the financial year end for private companies, CICs and LLPs and six months after the financial year end for public companies and public CICs.

Companies House Contact Centres

Companies House has temporarily closed its telephone contact centres in line with Covid-19 social distancing guidance. As of 25 March, enquiries to Companies House should be sent to it by email enquires@companieshouse.gov.uk


For further support and advice relating to the impact of COVID-19, please view our COVID-19 Advisory Service page.

Our use of cookies

We use necessary cookies to make our site work. We'd also like to set optional analytics cookies to help us improve it. We won't set optional cookies unless you enable them. Using this tool will set a cookie on your device to remember your preferences. For more detailed information about the cookies we use, see our Cookies page.

Necessary cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Analytics cookies

We'd like to set Google Analytics cookies to help us to improve our website by collection and reporting information on how you use it. The cookies collect information in a way that does not directly identify anyone.
For more information on how these cookies work, please see our Cookies page.